MOSCOW, June 23. /TASS/. Wednesday's violation of Russia's state border off Crimea by the British destroyer HMS Defender might have pursued the purpose of reconnaissance or disorganization of the defense command system, Russia's distinguished military air pilot, Major-General Vladimir Popov, told TASS.
"This provocation by third countries or this intruder ship might have been planned as part of some larger operation, aimed at disorganizing our command and control system and conducting reconnaissance," Popov said.
He stressed that dropping bombs as a warning in this particular case was not something out of the ordinary.
"I will not say that it was something extraordinary. I know several such cases. I even issued such orders myself, when I was first deputy commander and chief of the air staff of Russia's border guard forces," Popov said.
He recalled a similar situation in the mid-1990s when a Turkish freighter flying the Maltese flag violated the Russian border.
"I ordered a plane into the air and the plane fired shots. Then border guard ships approached, stopped it, took it in tow and brought it here, to Novorossiysk. There followed an investigation and international sanctions. The shipping company paid fines, because they had violated their contractual obligations and requirements to be met while operating ships in our waters," Popov explained.
He stressed that before warning shots are fired the intruder is warned over the radio or by visual signals.
"The Foreign Ministry is now to look into the affair. There is to follow our note of protest and Britain's response. They will have to explain how they understand all this. The Defense Ministry will participate.
Destroyer HMS defender incident
Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the Black Sea Fleet, acting in cooperation with the border guard force of the federal security service FSB, stopped a violation of the state border by the destroyer HMS Defender off Crimea's Cape Fiolent. The destroyer ventured three kilometers into Russia's territorial waters. A border guard patrol ship fired warning shots and a Sukhoi-24M bomber dropped bombs ahead of the destroyer. After that, the HMS Defender left Russia's territorial waters.
The British Defense Ministry said its destroyer was making a peaceful voyage across Ukraine's territorial waters in conformity with international law and denied any warning shots had been fired.
The Russian Defense Ministry later described the British ship's actions as a gross violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and urged the British side to investigate the crew's actions.
The British embassy's military attache was summoned to the Russian Defense Ministry's Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation to be notified of the Russian Defense Ministry's position.